JUL 15, 2017 12:46 PM PDT

How Plastic Kills

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Plastics help make life more convenient in many ways. But as use of this material becomes ever more widespread, many ecosystems seem to be collapsing under the weight of the 220 million tons of plastics produced every year. And nowhere else is this more visible than in our very own oceans.

Currently, plastic trash litter our oceans and beaches. Recent estimates put the number of plastic debris in the ocean at 5.25 trillion pieces. Of that staggering number, about 269,000 tons are floating on the ocean surface, while about four billion pieces are hidden deep on the ocean floor.

The waste distracts from the aesthetics of our beautiful ocean landscapes. But even more dangerous, plastics lead to the demise of animals in these ecosystems. It's estimated that plastic entanglement kills about 100,000 marine creatures every year. Animals that confuse plastics for food end up dying because the material takes so long to disintegrate. About 1 million seabirds die with stomachs full of plastics caps, bags, bottle remnants, and more.

Watch the video to learn the impact of plastic waste on our environments, and what you can do to save our oceans.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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